Today in Louisiana, a fight for school choice takes center stage as the House Education Committee debates Governor Jindal’s education reform package. Like most attempts to fix our broken education system, the Governor’s reform package has been met with hostility by the education establishment. In fact, teachers unions across the state cancelled class to play hooky at the state capitol today, cashing in a paid “Professional Development” day to perfect their professional protesting skills.
A union official was quoted in the Weekly Standard, commenting,
“Canceling class will allow teachers to travel to Baton Rouge for hearings on Gov. Bobby Jindal’s plan to make sweeping changes in public schools.”
The article went on to explain,
“The teachers are canceling class under the pretense of ‘professional development’ days; those who opt not to travel will be expected to work at school on improving their professional skills that day.”
So let me get this right. Instead of spending time training to become a better teacher, union teachers are taking paid time off to protest a bill that would benefit underprivileged children? What happened to the men and women who became teachers because they loved kids, and wanted to make a difference in their lives? Why would a teacher not welcome reforms that are proven to help children succeed?
Playing hooky for a union protest not only shortchanges our children a day of school, but shows just how out of touch some union teachers truly are. Instead of focusing on children, the current education system focuses on protecting the adults.
Of course there are many outstanding teachers in America who really do epitomize the best of the best of the American education system, people like my wife who teaches 2nd grade in Maryland. But good teachers don’t need the union, they rely on skill and creativity to challenge children and make them succeed. Effective teachers scoff at tenure and welcome merit pay. Effective teachers look at reform as welcomed and ask only to be included. Bad teachers rely on special interests and bullying to negotiate contracts that make it impossible for real reform.
Governor Jindal is taking a bold stand to reform a failing system -which currently ranks 49thin overall education performance- yet these teachers are more concerned with protecting their own self-interest. The education package proposed by Governor Jindal reforms tenure and implements a performance-based system. It advances school choice by implementing a tax credit program that empowers parents and families to decide what school best meets the student’s educational needs.
As union teachers turn their classroom lights off to play hooky and protest education reform, leaving children literally and figuratively in the dark, ask yourself: Where do your loyalties lie?